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Watchdog campaign receives big boost

22 September 2009, Latest news

Today the Liberal Democrats passed a motion at their annual conference supporting a supermarket watchdog.

A watchdog would govern the relationship between suppliers and supermarkets, making sure that supermarkets don't abuse their buyer power, which happens all too frequently. This abuse takes the form of squeezing suppliers abroad, a practice which hits those workers producing the goods the hardest. Any of this sound familiar?

This level of support for a supermarket watchdog sets an important precedent. We can secure key allies in favour of regulating overseas supply chains. With enough popular support, it is possible to make the issue of labour violations abroad a political priority.

If we can help prevent supermarket abuse, why can't we do the same with the fashion industry? All we need is a groundswell of support from ordinary people in the UK who are concerned about how their clothes are being made. This kind of campaign has worked before - and it can work again.

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LFHS coalition growing stronger by the day

22 September 2009, Latest news

Good news from Belgium! The International Textile, Garment & Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF), a Brussels-based trade union and a global leader in the fight against sweatshops, has signed on in support of Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops. This news comes only days after several key British trade unions joined the campaign.

We're pleased to have such strong backing from the trade union movement - our coalition is growing stronger every day. Their support, coupled with the signatures of many thousands of people, will go a long way towards helping us end sweatshops. There's a lot more work to be done, so please sign our call now to demand government action.

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Trade unions display their support for LFHS

21 September 2009, Latest news

At last week's Trade Union Congress conference trade union leaders signed up to Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops, marking an important step for the campaign as we seek to get 50,000 signatures. Among those who joined our call - and posed for our photo gallery - are Dave Prentis (Unison), Mark Serwotka (PCS), Sally Hunt (UCU), Billy Hayes (CWU), Bob Crow (RMT), Paul Noon (Prospect), Colin Moses (Prison Officers Association) and Joe Marino (Bakers Union).

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is about improving conditions for workers. But it's also about protecting their jobs. We therefore aren't calling for a boycott of shops supplied by sweatshops, which would only put thousands of jobs at risk. That's why we're calling for strong and urgent government regulation of the industry. And the support of the trade union movement is a real boost towards achieving that goal.

Sally Hunt UCU
Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU
Paul Noon Prospect
Paul Noon, General Secretary, Prospect
Joe Marino BFAWU
Joe Marino, General Secretary, BFAWU
Mark_Serwotka_PCS
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS
Dave Pentis UNISON
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
Colin Moses POA
Colin Moses, National Chairman, POA
Bob Crow RMT
Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT
Billy Hayes CWU
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU
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LFHS in the news

20 September 2009, Latest news

Over the past few days there has been lots of print and online media covering London Fashion Week. The Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign has been part of this media blitz, including this great shot in The Times' online picture gallery.

If you haven't already, make sure you check out today's Comment is Free at The Guardian's website, which features a piece by John Hilary, War on Want's Executive Director. The article examines the conditions facing workers around the world, and explains why the campaign is calling for government regulation of the fashion industry.

This is a great start to the campaign, but our success depends on your contributions. So, sign up to the campaign if you've haven't already. And if you have signed up, take a moment to upload your photo to our growing gallery of supporters.

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Restyling the fight against sweatshops

19 September 2009, Comment is Free

A new campaign is launching in London fashion week to help us look good without feeling bad

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Celebs turn out in support of LFHS

18 September 2009, Previous events

TV campaigner Stacey Dooley joins Strictly's Jo Wood, Little Boots, Gael Garcia Bernal in sweatshops fight.

 

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Clothes you can feel good about

17 September 2009, Latest news

Kudos to Emma Watson, who is teaming up with People Tree to launch a new line of fair trade fashion. In a statement released by the ethical label, Watson explains that she was "excited by the idea of using fashion as a tool to alleviate poverty and knew it was something I could help make a difference with".

We couldn't have put it better ourselves. Fashion can play a role in eliminating poverty - and still look good to boot.

People Tree, which supports the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign, has been a leading producer of ethical fashion for nearly a decade, and it's good to see them generating buzz over their latest range.

Why not show your support as well? Add your name to our campaign today.

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Live from London Fashion Week

17 September 2009, Latest news

The LFHS campaign made quite a splash today at London Fashion Week, which kicked off this morning at Somerset House. Backed by TV campaigner Stacey Dooley, the campaign unveiled its drive for 50,000 names demanding that Gordon Brown regulate the industry.

The campaign is being endorsed by an array of people from the fashion and entertainment industry. But change won't happen unless we build up a groundswell of support from ordinary people.

So check out the terrific photos from today's event below and on our Flickr page - and make sure you show your own support by uploading your own image to our gallery.

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Stars back largest-ever ethical fashion drive

17 September 2009, Press releases

NEWS HOOKS
London Fashion Week begins
BBC television starts new Strictly Come Dancing series

WHEN? 9.00 am BST, Friday, 18 September 2009
WHERE? Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
WHAT? War on Want launches its campaign Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops, backed by public figures including Strictly Come Dancing newcomer Jo Wood, pop singer Little Boots, film star Gael Garcia Bernal and designer Betty Jackson
HOW? Models parade in campaign T-shirts and carry LFHS placards at London Fashion Week's main venue, just before the first catwalk show opens there.
Stacey Dooley, a campaigner against clothes sweatshops since her appearance in the BBC television series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, will attend to support the launch.


TV campaigner Stacey joins Strictly's Jo Wood, Little Boots, Gael Garcia Bernal in sweatshops fight

War on Want and celebrities will seek public support today (Friday, 18 September) behind the biggest-ever call for British government action to stop fashion retailers exploiting overseas workers.

As London Fashion Week opens, the charity will unveil its new drive for 50,000 names demanding that UK prime minister Gordon Brown regulates the industry.

The initiative will be backed by Jo Wood, the former wife of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, hours before viewers see her debut when the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing returns to Britain's television screens.

The Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops push is also endorsed by pop singer Little Boots, actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Ashley Jensen and designer Betty Jackson, who stages her own catwalk show at Somerset House in London on Sunday (20 September).

Among other backers are television personality Tony Robinson, actor-playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, comedians Jo Brand and Francesca Martinez and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

Supportive public figures include Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, the UK's largest trade union, Mary Turner, president of the GMB union, Queen's Counsel Michael Mansfield, the leading human rights lawyer, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John Pilger and cartoonist Martin Rowson.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "We want exploitation-free fashion which makes us look good without feeling bad. This campaign gives people a chance to make a real difference to the lives of workers who produce our clothes. Now is the time for the government to take action."

Models in campaign T-shirts and carrying Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops placards will launch the drive on a carpet at Somerset House minutes before the first catwalk show opens there as the curtain raiser to London Fashion Week.

Stacey Dooley, a campaigner against clothes sweatshops since her appearance in the BBC television series Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, will attend to support the launch.

In the series she lived and worked alongside people in India making clothes for UK high street retailers.

According to War on Want research, workers making clothes for Primark, Tesco and Asda factories in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka received on average only £19.16 (2280 taka) a month, under half a living wage. Some employees were paid only the minimum wage, £13.97 (1663 taka) a month, far less than the £44.82 (5333 taka) needed to escape dire hardship.

The vast majority of employees live in small, crowded shacks, many of which lack plumbing and adequate washing facilities.Though forced overtime is illegal in Bangladesh, employees said they were made to toil extra hours, often unpaid. Workers complained that in the fast fashion rush to produce the latest styles, many of them suffered verbal and physical abuse as they struggled to meet unrealistic targets. Yet the Dhaka workers said none of their factories was unionised.

Lina earns just £16 (1850 taka) a month, toiling 12 hours a day producing Tesco clothes.

"It is not enough," she said. "I can only afford to live in one room with my husband, two-year-old boy and mother-in-law."

Ifat, who toils in a factory supplying Primark, Tesco and Asda, said: "I can't feed my children three meals a day."

Jo Wood, shocked by garment workers' hardship when she visited Dhaka with a further LFHS backer, fair trade fashion company People Tree, said: "The conditions that they lived in in the slums were appalling: the rubbish, the smell and the poverty. Up to six people live in a tin room on bamboo stilts above heaps of rubbish. Yet I was humbled by the people and their attitudes."

Little Boots said: "I love fashion, but loathe how some retailers deny a living wage to the people who make their clothes, condemning them to a lifetime of misery and poverty. Join the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign and help stop high street chains stitching up their workers."

Jack Dromey said: "Global economic crisis threatens the most vulnerable, with a race to the bottom. But shoppers in British high streets will not accept modern day slavery in sweatshops producing cheap clothes. Reputable retailers should insist on high standards. Rogue retailers will be exposed if they try to take advantage."

People Tree director Safia Minney said: "The government must work with local partners to review a living wage in developing countries. They must increase funding of initiatives that promote responsible consumerism and awareness and start to hold companies legally accountable for human rights violations overseas committed in their name."

Another supporter, Livia Firth, founder of ethical retailer Eco Age, said: "I love fashion and am trying my best to wear only garments from designers who are sweatshop free. I hope this campaign will encourage both consumers like me and designers and producers to always make sure that what we wear comes from a chain of production which is 100% fair."

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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Historic TUC vote on Israel boycott

17 September 2009, Latest news

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel continues to gather momentum after receiving a historic vote of support from the British trade union movement.

On Thursday 17 September, in a landmark move, the British Trade Union movement voted to support Palestinian civil society’s BDS call.  A motion was passed at the annual Trade Union Congress by unions representing 6.5 million workers in the UK support BDS tactics against Israel until it complies with international law.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Over the last 60 years Israel has continuously acted in defiance of UN resolutions, international law and global outrage. Yet the international community has failed to act to stop Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead the British government amongst others has rewarded Israeli aggression with financial, military and diplomatic support.

"The trade union movement has taken a courageous decision today to stand up against this injustice, just like it stood up to racist South Africa in the anti-apartheid movement.

"This is a wake up call to Downing Street that there can be no more business as usual with Israel. A ban on trade with illegal settlements and a two-way arms embargo with Israel must be implemented immediately."

Boycott, divestment and sanctions were widely used in the anti-apartheid movement. Palestinian civil society in 2005 launched its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organisations including War on Want’s partners Stop the Wall. War on Want works closely with the Palestinian Boycott National Committee and has supported the BDS call since its inception.

War on Want will be speaking at a UK national gathering on BDS on 2-4 October in Northumberland.

What is boycott, divestment and sanctions?

  • Boycotts can be consumer, sporting, cultural and academic. The primary target in the UK has been the boycott of consumer goods produced in Israel. With a particular focus on fresh produce grown in Israel's illegal West Bank settlements. British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's continue to sell settlement produce, despite doubts over the legal status of these products.
  • Divestment means targeting corporations which are complicit in the occupation and ensuring universities, pensions or other public money is not invested in such companies. War on Want in 2006 published its groundbreaking report Profiting from the Occupation, which called for divestment from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
  • Sanctions are also an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country's actions. War on Want is currently demanding the UK government impose the sanction of an arms embargo with Israel and suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which gives Israel preferential trade access to European markets.

Image by Flickr user dannyman (Creative Commons license)
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TUC Israel vote 'wakeup call to Brown'

17 September 2009, Press releases

NEWS HOOK

War on Want welcomes historic TUC vote for Israel boycott


The anti-poverty charity War on Want today welcomed the decision by the TUC to support Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanction tactics to be used against Israel until it complies with international law.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Over the last 60 years Israel has continuously acted in defiance of UN resolutions, international law and global outrage. Yet the international community has failed to act to stop Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead the British government amongst others has rewarded Israeli aggression with financial, military and diplomatic support.

"The trade union movement has taken a courageous decision today to stand up against this injustice, just like it stood up to racist South Africa in the anti-apartheid movement.

"This is a wake up call to Downing Street that there can be no more business as usual with Israel. A ban on trade with illegal settlements and a two-way arms embargo with Israel must be implemented immediately."

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Boycott, divestment and sanctions were widely used in the anti-apartheid movement. Palestinian civil society in 2005 launched its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organisations. War on Want works closely with the Palestinian Boycott National Committee and has supported the BDS call since its inception.
  • Boycotts can be consumer, sporting, cultural and academic. The primary target in the UK has been the boycott of consumer goods produced in Israel. With a particular focus on fresh produce grown in Israel's illegal West Bank settlements. British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's continue to sell settlement produce, despite doubts over the legal status of these products.
  • Divestment means targeting corporations which are complicit in the occupation and ensuring universities, pensions or other public money is not invested in such companies. War on Want in 2006 published its groundbreaking report Profiting from the Occupation, which called for divestment from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
  • Sanctions are also an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country's actions. War on Want is currently demanding the UK government impose the sanction of an arms embargo with Israel and suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which gives Israel preferential trade access to European markets.
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A long time coming

16 September 2009, Latest news

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops is a brand new campaign that will be unmatched in size and scope. But it's also the culmination of years of hard work by War on Want and other campaigning organisations.

The anti-sweatshop movement has been truly global in reach, and radical in its aims. It's also gained a number of crucial victories along the way. For example, in 2006 parliament passed the Companies Act, a law requiring companies to report on their social and environmental impacts. Perhaps as important, the issue of sweatshop labour has grabbed the public's attention, in part because of widespread media coverage of the issue. More than ever, it seems, people are thinking about how their clothes are made.

As we take the campaign to end sweatshops to the next level, it's worth reflecting on what we've done - and how far we've come. Doing so will make that final push towards a sweatshop-free world a bit easier.

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Asda still doesn’t get it

15 September 2009, Latest news

Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops logoAsda doesn't seem to grasp the concept of irony.

This week the company introduced its new Asian clothing range, which it promised would bring "authentic cultural clothing" to the UK.

You heard it right. Asda, a company that is sourcing clothes made by Bangladeshi workers earning as little as 7p an hour, is now selling 'traditional' clothing from Asia.

And here's the kicker. The company's decision stems in part from its desire to sell more clothing during Eid, the Muslim holiday that many workers in Bangladesh must skip in order to earn enough to eat.

Not everyone in the UK gets irony, apparently.

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Legislation in the UK – and abroad

14 September 2009, Latest news

save_our_lifeThe main focus of the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign is changing legislation in this country.

But as we roll out the campaign, it's important that we keep in mind developments on the ground in those countries where labour abuses occur regularly.

Our research has shown that Bangladesh has in fact enacted quite stringent legislation concerning labour violations. The Bangladeshi Labour Law of 2006 was a groundbreaking piece of legislation that strengthened safety codes and broadened worker safety nets, like maternity leave.

The problem is that the Bangladeshi government has not allocated adequate resources to enforce the law, which has allowed companies to disregard its provisions. While this reality has shaped the way we campaign in the UK, it has also had a huge impact on the work of the National Garment Workers' Federation (NGWF), a leading Bangladeshi trade union.

In recent months Bangladesh and Honduras, two countries with a large number of sweatshops, have experienced profound political and social change. The situation on the ground is still touch and go, particularly in Honduras. It will be crucial for anti-sweatshop campaigners here to keep abreast of these developments, noting where those of us in the UK can provide support.

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Activists demand action at protest against failed G20 policies

04 September 2009, Previous events

Donning masks of G20 leaders and hoisting a cash-laden throne, today War on Want and the Put People First coalition protested against Gordon Brown and the G20 for failing to take action to fundamentally reform the economic system.

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